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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published August 25, 2015

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Open house meetings seek input on proposed state bikeways

Second round of meetings to focus on review of draft bike route alignments

MADISON -- Earlier this year, the public helped identify elements of potential routes across Wisconsin for designation as U.S. Bike Routes and state bike routes, and now people will have a second opportunity to help provide feedback on proposed route alignments at a series of upcoming meetings.

The Department of Natural Resources, in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and other state agencies, and the Wisconsin Bike Fed have partnered on the statewide Bikeways Project. A bikeway is a trail, road, street or path that is specifically designated for bicycle travel or may be designed for bicycle travel, and may be shared with other modes of transportation or recreation. A primary goal of the Project is to facilitate long-distance bicycle travel in Wisconsin by identifying routes for state and federal designation.

More than 80 people contributed to identifying bikeways across the state in a series of open house meetings in May and June, and another 360 comments were received through an online Wisconsin Bikeways Project map (Wikimap) that was available from May 21 through June 30.

Those contributing comments identified routes they currently use for bicycling or would like to use as well as areas that are barriers to bicycling or bicycling destinations. Participants identified routes with low traffic, good scenery and good pavement quality among the highest reasons routes were "good to ride."

Some of the barriers to good bike routes identified in the first round were challenging intersections or freeway interchanges and trail conditions.

The focus of the next round of public feedback is soliciting public comment on the best candidate routes within the identified corridors. The public can view and comment on the proposed routes online from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and at upcoming meetings.

The meetings are open to the public and will have an informal open house format. There will be no formal presentations, but there will be multiple stations where the public can learn about different aspects of the project, including the proposed routes, different types of bikeways, route selection criteria, mapping of bikeways in the corridors, and an area for participants to fill out and submit written comments.

All open houses will be held from 4:30-7:30 p.m., except for Milwaukee, which will be from 4-7 p.m.

People can find out more about the project by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "bikeways."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brigit Brown, 608-266-2183 or Paul Holtan, office of communications, 608-267-7517

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Sept. 1 marks opener for mourning dove, early teal and early goose hunting seasons

MADISON -- Migratory game bird hunters are reminded that Sept. 1 marks the opener for mourning dove, early teal and early goose hunting seasons.

An updated 2015 early teal, early Canada goose and mourning dove regulations pamphlet [PDF] will give hunters:

In 2015, the mourning dove hunting season will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 29, and as in 2014, 20 days have been added to the end of the traditional 70-day dove hunting season.

Dove hunters are encouraged to check out the Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool. FFLIGHT helps hunters of all types locate young aspen and alder habitat, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and managed dove fields.

FFLIGHT also allows users to print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and provides measuring tools to help estimate acreage and walking distance. Mobile users can use FFLIGHT on-the-go to find habitat suitable for the species they wish to pursue.

Canada goose hunting in Wisconsin will begin with an Early September season Sept. 1-15, with a daily bag limit of five geese. Goose hunters will be required to slit or punch their goose permit and report their harvest using 1-800-99-GOOSE (46673) within 48 hours of harvest. During the early goose season, regulations apply statewide with no zone specific regulations.

The department will also offer the second year of the three-year experimental early teal-only duck hunting season from Sept. 1-7, with a daily bag limit of six teal. Opening day shooting hours for the teal season will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and sunrise to 7 p.m. for the remainder of the season. Hunters will not be required to purchase any additional licenses or permits, other than those required for hunting ducks in the regular waterfowl season.

While the early teal season is offered statewide, there are some state owned properties with special waterfowl hunting limitations. For example, Mead Wildlife Area does not allow waterfowl hunting prior to the regular duck season, and Lake Mills Wildlife Area (Zeloski Marsh) has unique shooting hour restrictions. Please check to see if the areas you hunt have any additional requirements or limitations.

In addition, check out the updated teal duck identification slideshow and quiz, available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for keyword "waterfowl."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841

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2015 Wisconsin wild rice harvest season outlook

MADISON - Wild rice abundance reports across northern Wisconsin vary regionally for the 2015 ricing season, generally ranging from average to above-average, according to state and tribal biologists. Overall, rice maturity is occurring on time - rice found within river systems is maturing slightly earlier than rice found on lakes and flowages.

Aerial surveys suggest slightly more variability in the condition of wild rice in northwest Wisconsin, while waters in the north central and northeast regions appear less variable.

"Harvesting wild rice is a great way to gather your own food while enjoying some of the best areas of the state," said Jason Fleener, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wetland habitat specialist. "Those hoping to find ripe rice during Labor Day weekend should have luck finding areas ready for harvest."

According to Fleener, taking time to scout an area for wild rice and patience is the key to finding good rice beds. Waters that were productive in recent years may produce less rice (and vice versa) this year due to a number of factors, such as changes in water flow, water levels, water quality, weather behavior and wave action. Speaking to local ricers or rice finishers is a good way to find out when rice is ready for harvesting.

Wild rice is considered ripe when it begins to fall off the stalk with little effort stroking the flails (ricing sticks) across the rice plants. If little rice is falling with minimal effort, ricers should consider finding a new area to harvest or return at a later time to prevent damage to immature rice beds.

Wild rice waters are divided into two separate categories for harvest: date-regulated and non-date-regulated. A total of 51 date-regulated lakes are located within the Ceded Territory in off-reservation areas in the northern part of the state. One exception is Lake Noquebay in Marinette County, a date-regulated lake outside of the Ceded Territory.

Opening harvest dates for date-regulated waters are determined jointly by DNR and tribal officials. Once a particular date-regulated lake is opened, the wild rice harvesting season will last 60 days. All date-regulated waters are posted at access points at least 24 hours in advance of opening day.

Several date-regulated waters will be closed for the 2015 season due to poor rice conditions. Closures protect and replenish seed stock and help promote rice growth for future years.

A list of date-regulated lakes with harvesting status can be found on the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission's wild rice website [exit DNR]. This webpage provides rice abundance information for each body of water listed based on annual aerial and ground survey information.

Ricers may encounter other recreationalists on the water, including anglers, boaters and hunters, especially during the Sept. 1-7 early teal season. Boaters are encouraged to create no wake in the vicinity of rice beds and avoid direct contact with areas that contain wild rice.

Most lakebeds throughout Wisconsin are owned by the state, thus allowing public harvest of wild rice. However, those harvesting wild rice should be aware that wild rice growing along rivers, streams and some flowages adjacent to private land may be privately owned. Ricers are strongly encouraged to check local land ownership records and ask for permission if necessary before beginning their harvest along these waterways.

The department recently updated the wild rice webpage to include new information about harvesting wild rice, including a question and answer section.

To receive email updates regarding wild rice in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the appropriate distribution list.

For more information regarding wild rice licensing and harvest regulations, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "wild rice."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fleener, DNR wetland habitat specialist, 608-266-7408

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Wisconsin's Deer Management Assistance Program continues to grow

MADISON -- Following a successful launch of Wisconsin's Deer Management Assistance Program in 2014, Wisconsin landowners and land managers have continued to work closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to manage their properties for healthy deer and habitat.

In DMAP's first year, the department accepted 114 applications and worked with nearly 300 landowners. In 2015, 248 applications were received, and the department is currently working with over 700 landowners on nearly 88,000 acres of land.

New additions to DMAP in 2015 include public land enrollment, four landowner workshops, additional communication with local landowners, and an opportunity to participate in a voluntary mentored hunting and trapping program. Workshops provide an excellent opportunity for DMAP cooperators to network and learn more about maximizing the value of their property for deer and other wildlife.

DMAP provides habitat and herd management assistance to private landowners and public land managers interested in improving habitat conditions for deer and other wildlife. Three enrollment levels are available, depending on the size of the property. All enrollees receive technical advice from wildlife professionals, access to habitat improvement resources and program updates and invitations to DMAP workshops.

Individual properties or a group of properties totaling more than 160 acres are eligible to receive a property management plan, a site visit with a DNR wildlife biologist and forester, and annual property-specific harvest reports and more. Enrollment in DMAP may also qualify a landowner or land manager for reduced-price antlerless tags.

DMAP coordinator Bob Nack is pleased by the response the program has received throughout Wisconsin. "We are continuing to see a steady level of interest in the north, and additional enrollments in southern Wisconsin," said Nack. "Landowners are interested in learning more about improving the wildlife habitat on their properties."

A department survey of nearly 300 enrollees in 2014 found that 93 percent were satisfied with the program, and 77 percent intended to implement most or all of the habitat improvement recommendations found in their management plan. Many current users have stated that they would recommend DMAP to other landowners, and enjoy the informational resources provided to them through their online MyDMAP account.

"DMAP is a wonderful way to learn about the habitat needs of deer and other wildlife," said Bill Horvath, a DMAP cooperator who enrolled his property as part of a group cooperative in Shawano County. "DMAP teaches you the science behind deer management on your own property and puts you in touch with foresters and biologists to apply the science."

The department will be hosting an online chat Sept. 22 at noon for DMAP cooperators and individuals interested in learning more about the program. To participate, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "chat."

Interested landowners or managers can submit a DMAP application at any time to begin receiving benefits. Landowners who enroll at level 2 or 3 should submit an application prior to March 1 to be considered for a site visit in summer 2016.

For more information regarding DMAP or to complete an application, search keyword "DMAP."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Nack, DNR DMAP coordinator, 608-264-6137or Christine Priest, DNR assistant deer biologist, 608-264-6023

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DNR names Justine Hasz fisheries bureau director

MADISON -- Justine Hasz has been named fisheries bureau director for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, leading the 205 permanent staff member team responsible for fish propagation, management and angler services.

Justine Hasz
Justine Hasz
Contributed Photo

Hasz, a 15-year veteran of the department, previously held the fisheries services section chief post and has been acting as interim bureau director since the retirement of Ron Bruch earlier this year. A native of Leicester, England, Hasz moved to Wisconsin in January 1997 to study at UW-Stevens Point where she earned a master's degree in freshwater fisheries management. She also holds a master's degree in marine fisheries science from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

An avid angler and hunter who intends to bag her first bear this fall, Hasz said her work around the state with both recreational and commercial anglers has given her important insights into the connection between the environment and the economy. In Wisconsin, sport fishing generates a total economic impact of $2.3 billion and draws some 336,000 nonresident anglers to the state each year, based on numbers from the American Sportfishing Association.

The fishing tradition also runs deep among Wisconsin residents with some 938,000 residents aged 16 and older participating.

"Wisconsin's world-class fishing opportunities result from a long-term, strategic approach and in turn, anglers make impressive contributions to the state's economy," Hasz said. "From our stocking and management efforts to habitat improvement and angler recruitment initiatives, the DNR fisheries team also recognizes the importance of engaging citizens and stakeholders in all facets of our work. We look forward to providing additional opportunities for input in the months and years ahead."

Sanjay Olson, administrator for DNR's division of fish, wildlife and parks, said Hasz was chosen for her exemplary leadership and extensive knowledge of the state's unique regional fisheries. Hasz started her permanent career with DNR in July 2000 as fisheries biologist for Green Bay, then covered Marinette and Oconto Counties before moving to Wisconsin Rapids to cover Adams, Juneau and Wood Counties. In 2012, Hasz became fisheries team supervisor for 13 counties covered by the fisheries team's West District.

"Few states offer the diverse angling opportunities we provide in Wisconsin, with exceptional trout and salmon fishing in the Great Lakes, trophy musky and walleye in the north and incredibly productive trout streams throughout the state," Olson said. "Prudent management by our fisheries team has led to top rankings by publications including Bassmaster Magazine and Justine's work has and will continue to play a critical role in this shared success."

In the months ahead, Hasz said she anticipates leading implementation of efforts to simplify trout regulations and improve panfish size structure through initiatives that gained strong support from citizens and participants at Wisconsin Conservation Congress hearings. A 10-year Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan and additional stocking as part of the three-year, $12 million Wisconsin Walleye Initiative also are in the works.

"We're particularly excited and grateful for the support we've received to continue modernizing our hatchery facilities, including the Art Oehmcke Hatchery in Oneida County, Gov. Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery in Washburn County and Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery," Hasz said. "Improvements to these facilities will help ensure enjoyable fishing experiences for anglers of all ages in the years to come."

To learn more about angling throughout the state, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "fishing."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Justine Hasz, DNR fisheries bureau director, 715-896-9558, Justine.Hasz@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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DNA sampling finds no evidence of Asian carp in the Fox and Milwaukee rivers in 2015

MADISON -- Ongoing surveillance efforts this summer found no new evidence of Asian carp in the Milwaukee and Fox rivers as part of work completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

USFWS biologists tested 160 water samples collected across three sampling dates in May and June for genetic evidence of silver and bighead carp. None of the samples tested positive for Asian carp DNA.

Bob Wakeman, DNR's aquatic invasive species program coordinator, said the testing represents an important tool in the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of silver and bighead carp into the Great Lakes. Asian carp pose significant ecological and economic threats to the Great Lakes region and its fishery because they eat voraciously and compete directly with valuable native fish for food.

"We certainly appreciate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducting this monitoring and giving us this good news," Wakeman said. "The continued negative results reinforce other findings that positive detections in 2013 near Sturgeon Bay and 2014 in the Fox River near Green Bay were likely from sources other than live fish."

The environmental DNA sampling approach used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is highly sensitive and can indicate the presence of a target species before traditional sampling techniques may. Early detection of new species aids in effective response efforts.

However, research suggests that small amounts of genetic material can be transported by sources including birds and boats, and even these trace amounts can be detected through the eDNA sampling protocol. As a result, biologists look for repeated detections over time to provide strong evidence of the presence of an unwanted species.

DNR and the USFWS will continue eDNA and traditional sampling efforts in future years to ensure that Asian carp do not become established in in the Great Lakes basin. In addition to the federal monitoring, DNR fisheries team members conduct a variety of netting, electroshocking and trawling operations in state waters as part of the ongoing monitoring effort and have not captured any Asian carp to date in any waters of the Lower Fox River, Green Bay or Lake Michigan.

Wakeman said anglers and other stakeholders from across the state play an important role in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp. To stop the spread of Asian carp, anglers are asked to review Asian carp identification materials, report any sightings of Asian carp and to dispose of unwanted live bait, including minnows, in the trash since small Asian carp look like many common bait species. These efforts will help prevent the establishment of Asian carp in the Great Lakes.

Photo identification tools and more information on Asian carp can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Asian carp."

More information on environmental DNA testing is available from the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee: www.asiancarp.us/edna.htm. Results of DNA monitoring from the Midwest region are posted here: www.fws.gov/midwest/fisheries/eDNA.html (both links exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator, 262-574-2149, Robert.Wakeman@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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DNR makes updated fish eating guidance available online

MADISON -- Updated fish eating guidance, Choose Wisely: A Health Guide for Eating Fish in Wisconsin [PDF], is now available online through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.

Detailed information also is available through "Find Advice," an online search tool that allows anglers to select their county and fishing spot to see local consumption advice. This year, the booklet takes a different format that is designed to show advice by area of the state to ease readers' use.

For rivers where polychlorinated biphenyls build up in fish, new testing reconfirms current advisories with slight modifications for some species from Lake Superior, the St. Louis River, Green Bay and sections of the Fox, Menominee, Milwaukee and Mississippi Rivers and no change for other reaches. Advice for some inland waters, where mercury is the primary fish contaminant, was also updated. Fish consumption advice varies by location and species of fish and ranges from unrestricted or one serving per week to "do not eat."

DNR, in consultation with the Department of Health Services, examines contaminant results for fish samples obtained each year at a subset of Wisconsin's waters, along with data from recent years, to re-evaluate fish consumption advice.

The 2015 fish consumption advisory reflects new results for fish collected mostly in 2013 from 45 inland lakes, river reaches and lakes Superior and Michigan and also considers results from bordering states and the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission as well as DNR.

Most waters in the state are covered by general statewide advice. In 2015, the number of waters that carry more specific, stringent advice due to higher contaminant levels in some species from those waters is 146.

Candy Schrank, the DNR toxicologist who coordinates the fish contaminant monitoring and advisory program, urges anglers to check the 2015 advice to see if there have been any changes to the advice for those waters they fish frequently.

"Our sampling efforts at times do result in changed advice and we work hard to make that information easily accessible to anglers," Schrank said.

Dr. Henry Anderson, chief medical officer of the Department of Health Services, noted that fish are a low-cost, low-fat source of protein, minerals and vitamins, but that people need to be aware of the kinds of fish they eat and where the fish come from.

"By following Wisconsin's fish consumption advice, you can enjoy the fun of fishing as well as obtain the health benefits that come from eating fish. If you eat fish, you should make sure to follow the fish eating guidance and advisories that will help you to reduce your exposure to environmental contaminants that can build up in fish," Anderson said.

For more information search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "eating your catch." Printed copies of the booklet will be available at DNR service centers and regional offices in a few weeks.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Candy Schrank, DNR, 608-267-7614, Candy.Schrank@wisconsin.gov; Dr. Henry Anderson, DHS, 608-266-1253

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 25, 2015




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